Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Help in the lab

  1. Aug 31, 2008 #1
    I find that in the lab I feel overwhelmed when doing experiments with the rest of the class. What did you guys do to feel comfortable carrying out experiments? I mean, I'm always unsure of what I'm doing..any tips guys?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 31, 2008 #2


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    You need a good lab partner. And if you wanted to cheat a little, you could always attend the same lab in for another session in advance to prepare yourself. Reading through the lab notes and attempting to answer the questions beforehand (conceptual test qns) would also help.

    There are labs when you actually do the experiment way before the lecture notes even cover them. I had 2 of these before, and they were downright confusing. What I did was to ask the lab TAs questions and listen in on questions asked by others. You'll realise that sooner or later the lab TAs might give away a little of the answer or at least a helpful approach to do the experiments.
  4. Aug 31, 2008 #3


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    2017 Award

    Being successful in lab depends a lot on your preparation for lab. You should know the basic steps of the procedure ahead of time and only consult the instructions/lab manual for details such as amounts, times, etc. You should also know what to expect as your results, so you can spot errors as they occur and troubleshoot on the fly.

    One suggestion for being better prepared, is to write out the procedure in your own words. This can be expecially helpful if your instructions are not too detailed. For example, if your instructions say "prepare a 0.1M solution of HCl," you could write in your notebook, add x mL of 1M HCl to y mL of water instead. That way, you already have the calculation done ahead of time and you don't need to mess around with figuring out the volumes in lab. Even drawing blank data tables for data collection ahead of time can be helpful.
  5. Aug 31, 2008 #4
    Oh okay I will surely do these things this year. I'm writing the CXC (now CSEC) exams so I have to work extra hard. The only thing is teachers like to tell us which lab we're doing and how to do it when we actually reach in the lab. Which really sucks by the way.
  6. Aug 31, 2008 #5
    I've found labs difficult thus far. Best thing is to find out what experiment you're going to be doing in advance and then try to get hold of a copy of the lab script for that experiment.

    Another thing, my biggest issue, is essentially confidence. Read your script, expect it not to make complete sense, ask for a standard overview of the apparatus from your demonstrators and then PLAY AROUND with the apparatus. I always worked well shoved away in a corner working on my own, for instance when my lab partner didn't show up, since then it was just my own little project to crack on with and had no choice but to, quite literally, EXPERIMENT. Writing this i think it sounds daft, but it's very easy to just resign yourself to not understanding the experiment, especially when there's 2 of you think the same.

    As for a difficult lab partner, or one equally as dumbfounded and reluctant to just try things out, i'm not sure what the best ploy actually is.. perhaps asserting yourself and then dragging him into the work by your own getting on with it, or if your partner is a bit of a domineering swine then.. well.. they're the tricky ones, especially if they're good, but I think that little bit extra time in the library before your next day of practical will have you on track
  7. Aug 31, 2008 #6
    On Googling 'experimenting' I was pleased to discover that more women are now experimenting with bisexuality. I also discovered a nice little aphorism:

    I hear, and I forget.
    I see, and I remember.
    I do, and I understand.

    This comes courtesy of Confucius.
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2008
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook